This is a tricky one to start, because the comment that got me thinking, was a slight misstatement on the part of the commenter. However, there's sometimes truth in tired miswritings, and the misreadings in them. Especially when they echo vague ideas we've seen before. Retraction aside, this quote has me thinking about writers, and how they market characters to women, and how they market female characters to men.
Guy resonates with people because his problems are our problems, well .. except brain damage maybe.. Fiancee stolen by someone he thought was a friend who lied to him, left for dead, taken advantage of. Guy wasn’t feminine.. he was innocent. As in young and idealistic. Eventually he got hurt badly enough that it fractured his mind and put him into a Coma that the Guardians had to heal him from. Girls just like Guy because at least he’s upfront and is really a nice guy deep down.
What gets me, and again I'm not personally going after the commenter, but it says a great deal that the two thoughts are separate.
Here it is again, the first thought:
Guy resonates with people because his problems are our problems.And the second:
Girls just like Guy because at least he’s upfront and is really a nice guy deep down.
And no, I'm not about to take someone's head off over "People" and "Girls." I just find it interesting that the commenter felt a need to bring up a "girl reason" for liking Guy in his comment. I think this attitude about fans of opposite sex characters needs closer examination.
We already talk, all the time, about how female characters suffer when written as objects rather than people. They are written that way, at times, because the writer is writing a character as a person the reader "wants to be with" rather than someone the reader "wants to be."
I've seen the "excuse" for this, that most writers are male, most readers are male.
The idea that, to write for a female audience, women will be categtorized as "want to be" personalities and men as "want to be with" personalities is along the same lines as the one where female characters get objectified. Without even getting into the heteronormativity of the matter, it bothers me on the front because it pretty much says that a man cannot identify with a woman, and vice versa. It really bugs me because that's not how I, personally, pick my favorites.
Oh, you've all seen this site. You all know I like to get down to the jokes about Green Lanterns and their assets. The first thing Chris Sims said back when I mentioned I was making a list for Tom Bondurant's 50 Greatest DC Characters Survey was "Lemme guess, 1) Kyle Rayner's Ass, 2) Hal Jordan's..." and to this day I'm sure he'd still claim I only put Kyle on that list by virtue of his hindquarters.
He'd be wrong, though, because I don't pick my favorites based on "hawtness." Rather, I am insistent that certain characters are "hawt" because I like them so much.
And while I have mentioned the appeal of Kyle as "The artistic guy who actually does have a core of strength" that's not why I enjoy reading him. I enjoy reading him, particularly when Marz writes him, because it's very easy -- with Kyle's attitude and narrative voice -- to place myself in the story through Kyle. That's why in JLA Kyle was such an anchor early on, because he was an easy character that way.
That's also why, when it changed to Winick, many of the Kyle fans through Marz despised the character changes (Kyle's narrative voice was traded in for moral superiority), and why now, fans who got into Kyle through Winick think he's gone "backwards" with the new writer.
That is an entire other series of posts, though.
My point is, though, that while I can see the appeal of Kyle as a romantic interest, and make cracks about his appearance, I wouldn't really give a shit for the character if I didn't have a personal connection to him. Kyle's a character who thrives on relatability.
While the idea of the fantasy man who never occurs in real life is appealing, I believe that that's more of a reason to like them if you prefer the character's love interest to the character themself. I think people as a whole tend to gravitate towards characters because they see something of themselves in them -- either a character trait they have and identify with, or a character trait they would like to emulate.
That's not to say every character I enjoy needs to be a carbon copy of myself, there only needs to be a spark there. A sliver of personality. A trait I can step into, or a trait I would like to step into.
John Stewart, for example, would be a favorite for idealism. I never thought much of John until I read his origin story by Denny O'Neil. The first page, where he stands up to that policeman for picking on those kids really resonated with me, and I've been completely mad about the character ever since. Because it's a compulsion that I, in my best moments, act on, and I wish I was able to do something so courageous as effortlessly as John does.
That's just a little something that gets to me when I see a "Girls like character X because..." statement about a male character (or a "Guys like X" about a female character). It usually describes a reason for a a fan who doesn't really like the character, but has a fetish for whatever trait. Not that there's anything wrong with that, in theory, it's just not a line of thinking that leads to solid writing that will appeal to a wide audience. In my experience, I, and most readers of both genders, prefer to follow a character they personally relate to as opposed to one that they would just like to fuck.